Syria opposition coalition suffers setback

2012-11-20 08:13
Syrians clean a street in the Tarik al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo. (Francisco Leong, AFP)

Syrians clean a street in the Tarik al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo. (Francisco Leong, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Syria
    Options and Implications for Lebanon and the Region Now R196.00
    buy now
Beirut - The new Syrian National Coalition, announced less than two weeks ago amid much fanfare in the Qatari capital Doha, suffered its first major setback on Monday as Islamist rebel groups refused to endorse it.

Already recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people by the Gulf states, Turkey and France, the group was snubbed by Islamist groups including the two most important, the Al-Nusra Front and Liwa al-Tawhid.

The announcement in an internet video by the Islamist rebel groups of their decision and their aim to make Syria an Islamist state could, experts believe, hamper the coalition's pressing request for military help from the West.

"We, the fighting squads of Aleppo city and province, unanimously reject the conspiratorial project called the National Coalition and announce our consensus to establish an Islamic state" in Syria, a spokesperson announced in the video.

"We reject any external coalitions or councils imposed on us at home from any party whatsoever," he said of the 11 November announcement of the new opposition umbrella grouping.

The Al-Nusra Front, a formidable fighting force, has claimed the majority of suicide bombing attacks in Syria's deadly 20-month-old conflict, while Liwa al-Tawhid, at first close to the Muslim Brotherhood, has become more radical.

'Make this your constitution'


"The announcement by the Islamist groups is a major blow to the coalition," said Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut.

"It is for this reason that the Americans and British remained prudent before recognising the coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

But he added: "It will not have a great impact on the question of weapons because if the West really wants to aid the emergence of a liberal and nationalist coalition, it must arm the secular groups to counterbalance the Islamists."

In the Islamist video, after the statement is made another man holds up a Qur'an, saying forcefully to the camera: "Make this your constitution."

The video speaker listed 14 armed groups as signatories to the statement, but the Ahrar al-Sham group rejected the proclamation on its web page, saying it did not endorse the statement.

However, the Islamist groups rejecting the National Coalition are among the most important fighting units in northern Syria, which is now almost entirely in rebel hands.

Jihadists main opposition

Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, who heads the main rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Aleppo, said the statement did not represent the opinion of all rebel groups in the province.

"These groups represent a number of military factions on the ground and reflect their position, but not all military forces in Aleppo agree with this," the defector, a former army colonel, said by phone.

"The military council has announced its support for the National Coalition and is collaborating with them."

Jihadists have become the main armed opposition fighting in northern Syria, with militants estimating their manpower could number more than 10 000.

Beirut-based scholar Francois Burgat is an expert on the Islamist movement and believes the video statement is more military than political.

"If this news is confirmed, the headlong eradication of the Syrian regime means these are the most determined fighters who are in the forefront," such as the Al-Nusra Front, he said.

Problem addressed 'the wrong way'

"The presence of this radical fringe group does not, however, allow us to prejudge the ultimate political balance of the rebel combatants: The Front is appreciated as an armed spearhead, not as an ideological leader.

But, paradoxically, this "risks reining in those who favour lifting the arms embargo, while it is precisely such a measure that could give real credibility to the coalition and speed up the political reorientation of the armed groups", Burgat added.

Thomas Pierret, a Syria specialist at the University of Edinburgh, said he believes the West is addressing the problem the wrong way.

"The West is asking the question backwards, separating the question of representation from that of resources: They expect the Coalition to prove itself before helping it," he said.

"Yet, such organisations cannot achieve credibility unless they have resources to distribute, and such resources have to be obtained initially from abroad.

"This is a basic tenet of international politics that the West pretends not to be aware of."

The news of the video came as EU ministers meeting in Brussels explored how to assist the new coalition, including lifting the arms embargo.

Read more on:    syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Travel

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to network and share your ideas and thoughts with your colleagues and friends. Information overload is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.